Six Nations Thoughts – France

24 01 2010

France head into the 2010 Six Nations as pre tournament favourites with most of the bookies. A rating which seems to have everything to do with their win over South Africa in the Autumn plus a home fixture against Ireland.  What the bookies seem to be ignoring when giving France this tag, is their facile defeat to New Zealand only two games later. Granted it is only Ireland currently who have anywhere near the level of talent or efficiency of execution to match the Kiwis, but even so this favourites tag seems to be debatable.

Every since Marc Lievremont took over, he has rarely resisted the inclination to tinker with his side. The number of players he has used since becoming Head Coach is extraordinary and it is crucial for France, as they build to New Zealand 2011, that they become a more settled and consistent side. On their day, France boast probably the most powerful side in Europe, yet their day only comes every second game which will never win you a world cup.

Notable for their absence in the squad picked for the Six Nations is Maxime Medard and Cedric Heymans. Medard in particular, has shown real flair and ability since he made his debut 2 years ago and you only have to look at the Second test in New Zealand last Summer for an example of what Heymans provides. The Compulsive Hooker cannot understand these  non-selections, although it is true that France are seemingly blessed with a brilliant collection of talents in the back three positions.

Mathieu Bastareaud returns to the squad for the first time since his appalling behaviour in New Zealand. He is a very strong player and could be a real danger in the midfield for France.

France, like England, are suffering with injuries though. Barcella, who made such an impression in 2008, is injured along with the evergreen Damien Traille and Yachvilli. Unlike England, France appear to have the requisite strength in depth to replace these totems of French rugby.

Prediction: 2nd place. France to lose one game, possibly the Irish game, but more likely Wales at the Millenium Stadium. French teams often don’t travel well.

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